Cycling sea to sea for vets

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TORIN HALSEY/TIMES RECORD NEWS Tom von Kaenel visits with supporters Friday afternoon at Memorial Auditorium before a presentation of his Sea2Sea.org project in which he is riding a bicycle 6,600 miles from South Carolina to Key West, Fla., all the way up to Juneau, Alaska. Along the way, von Kaenel brings attention to veterans’ issues and reads the names of each state’s military casualties from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. See the video on timesrecordnews.com

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Special ceremony commemorates La. soldiers

Special ceremony commemorates La. soldiers

April 10, 2014 Bonnie Culverhouse
louisiana
For 58-year-old Tom von Kaenel, a retired American soldier living in Six Mile, S. C., the best way to honor his fallen comrades is a challenge – a Sea2Sea Challenge
The U.S. Army veteran is bicycling from Florida to Alaska and stopped in Academy Park Wednesday to hold a ceremony remembering those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Coast to Coast Bike Ride for Veterans Stops in Clinton

Coast to Coast Bike Ride for Veterans Stops in Clinton

Link to Original Article

Route followed by cyclist raising awareness for needs of our country’s veterans, 2014 Sea2Sea Cycling Challenge.

Clintonians were invited to meet a special visitor Saturday afternoon during a brief stop in Clinton before continuing a coast to coast journey by bicycle to Alaska.  Sea2Sea is a US Military non-profit organization founded in 2012. Its purpose is to “Give Back to Those Who Served”, specifically highlighting the sacrifices that US service members, veterans, and their families have made since 9/11, and turning this awareness into action to benefit them.


Tom von Kaenel cycling through Clinton MS

Tom von Kaenel was cycling through Mississippi on Saturday, April 5th and made a stop in Clinton to hold a memorial ceremony and rest up before continuing on his journey.

The 2014 Sea2Sea Cycling Challenge began in Clemson, South Carolina on March 1st and will end at Juneau, Alaska on or about July 4th. The approximate route is shown above.


Sea2Sea’s Tom von Kaenel led a memorial ceremony
for fallen soldiers

The public was invited to join Sea2Sea’s von Kaenel at the Fallen Comrade sculpture memorial at the Clinton Visitor Center for a brief memorial ceremony where he and those in attendance and read names of those who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Visitor Center is located at 1300 Pinehaven Road, Clinton, MS (near Natchez Trace milepost 89).


Following the Memorial ceremony April 5 2014 in Clinton MS.
Left to right: Tom von Kaenel, Marsha Barham, Alderman
William O. Bill Barnett, David Haddock, Mayor Phil Fisher

Sea2Sea has two goals:
1) To remember those who are no longer with us We are starting a long range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each US State listing the names of those who gave their lives for us in these conflicts, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, DC. We feel that it is important to list the names at a memorial in each US State so that we have an enduring memorial of their sacrifice.
2) To continue to help those they left behind Partnering with selected 501(c)3 organizations (for example, Wounded Warrior Project, Upstate Warrior Solutions, American Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives) across the country, we will continue to highlight the challenges the service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help. Specifically we will be requesting that people devote any of the three T’s (their time, talent, or treasure) to the highlighted charities that we are partnering. Although financial aid is always welcome, volunteering for some of these organizations are the most useful for both the volunteer and the recipient.

Learn more at:  www.sea2sea.org   Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sea2sea1


Fallen Comrade memorial at the Clinton Visitor Center
Sculptor: Dr. Samuel Gore

Veteran stops in Davie on awareness-raising bike ride to Alaska

Veteran stops in Davie on awareness-raising bike ride to Alaska

By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel |6:52 p.m. EDT, March 14, 2014 | Click here for a link to the original story

Tom von Kaenel is on a 6,600-mile mission to raise awareness about the battles some veterans continue to fight after their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He stopped for a ceremony at Davie Town Hall on Friday during his bicycle trip from his South Carolina home to Key West, where he will turn around and head for Juneau, Alaska.

The Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge is expected to take four months, but it’s not the first time von Kaenel has gone the extra mile. He rode his bike from Washington state to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 2011.

The retired lieutenant colonel, 58, chose this path while recovering from injuries sustained on vacation in the French Pyrenees in 2010. He was recuperating in a U.S. military hospital in Germany, where he saw many young veterans returning from the Persian Gulf.

He is also making the ride for veterans such as Janos V. Lutz, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2007 to 2009. The 24-year-old Marine took his own life when he returned home to Davie, said his mother. Janine Lutz.

Lutz cited post-traumatic stress disorder and the anti-malaria drug mefloquine, also known by its brand name Lariam, which her son had been ordered to take during and after his service, as contributing to his death. “The side effects are…paranoia, hallucinations,” she said. “My son had all of that.” Last September, the Army banned the use of the drug among special operations forces.

Lutz is working with von Kaenel to make people aware of the dangers of PTSD and some of the drugs prescribed for it. She’s also trying to launch the Buddy Up-Live To Tell program for peer support among veterans.
“When [my son] was in his darkest hour, I couldn’t help him,” she said. “But I know if I had gotten some of his battle buddies here they would have saved my son.”

wkroustan@tribune.com or 954-356-4303

Copyright © 2014 including images, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska The names of 345 Florida soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan fill a table after each of their names were read outloud during a memorial service honoring them and also those who have committed suicide suffering from PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
The names of 345 Florida soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan fill a table after each of their names were read outloud during a memorial service honoring them and also those who have committed suicide suffering from PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska (left to right) Town of Davie Mayor Judy Paul, veteran Tom von Kaenel and others read the names of soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan and those who have committed suicide because of PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
(left to right) Town of Davie Mayor Judy Paul, veteran Tom von Kaenel and others read the names of soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan and those who have committed suicide because of PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska After getting off his bike veteran Tom von Kaenel is greated by fellow veterans (left) Jack Parsons and (right) Drew Karoblis Friday in Davie. Von Kaenel is riding his bike 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
After getting off his bike veteran Tom von Kaenel is greated by fellow veterans (left) Jack Parsons and (right) Drew Karoblis Friday in Davie. Von Kaenel is riding his bike 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska Daniel Iarco plays taps during a memorial service for soldiers who have committed suicide due to PTSD and soldiers who have died in from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /July 27, 2013)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
Daniel Iarco plays taps during a memorial service for soldiers who have committed suicide due to PTSD and soldiers who have died in from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /July 27, 2013)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska Veteran Tom von Kaenel is escorted into the Town of Davie City Hall Friday afternoon during his 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. He passed through Davie for a 30-minute ceremony honoring soldiers from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
Veteran Tom von Kaenel is escorted into the Town of Davie City Hall Friday afternoon during his 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. He passed through Davie for a 30-minute ceremony honoring soldiers from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Clemson Air Force ROTC holds event to honor start of nationwide bike ride for military charity

by KATHERINE SCHENCK

This article originally appeared in The Tiger on March 7, 2014  | Link to original article

Lieutenant Colonel Tom von Kaenel (retired) began a 120-day journey on Saturday, March 1. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel, who resides in Six Mile, S.C., is participating in the second bi-annual Sea2Sea Challenge. He will be biking from America’s southernmost point, Key West, Fla., to the northernmost state, Juneau, Alaska. During the 120-day ride, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel will cover approximately 7,000 miles.

The first Sea2Sea Challenge took place in Spring 2012. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and friends began in Ocean Shore, Wash., and arrived at Arlington National Cemetery on July 4, 2012. The group travelled almost 4,200 miles during their 74-day journey.

The difference in Lt. Colonel von Kaenel’s first challenge and his second challenge is that this time, he will be alone. For 120 days he will bike by himself, relying on local communities to host him overnight throughout his journey.

The Sea2Sea Foundation is a United States Military charity headquartered in Suwanee, Ga. Their mission is to “give back to those who serve.” The Sea2Sea Foundation aims to remember those who are no longer with us and to continue to help those who were left behind.

“Clemson Air Force ROTC was so eager to support the Sea2Sea Foundation because of our shared values. Lt. Colonel von Kaenel’s dedication to challenge himself and do something for a cause much bigger than himself, goes hand in hand with what we learn in ROTC,” Nick Kuzjak, student coordinator for the event and senior civil engineering major, said.

Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and other participants are able to fulfill their goals of the challenge through the nightly memorial services. Every night after his bike ride, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel will lead a memorial service to remember those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the memorial service, Lt. Colonel von Kaenel and the Clemson Air Force ROTC honored the South Carolinians who lost their lives while in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several students also attended the memorial service. “It was amazing to see so many Clemson students as well as other people in the Clemson community join together to honor the fallen soldiers from our state,” Samantha Algary, a sophomore history major, said. “The memorial service really put the sacrifice all of our military personnel make into perspective for those of us who aren’t exposed to it very often.”

“During the memorial service, 16 current AFROTC cadets read off the 96 names of South Carolinians who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” Kuzjak said.

“Tom then addressed the crowd and added a 97th name, a former soldier who took his own life after suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in November 2013. The event put into perspective the significance of Tom’s ride.”

“Hearing all of the names of the fallen soldiers and watching everyone’s reaction shows how committed to service the community is. Clemson began as a military academy, so we will always have strong ties to the United States Military,” Matt Olinger, a sophomore bioengineering major, said. “I have a lot of friends in Clemson’s ROTC program and I know the memorial service was very meaningful to them.”

Von Kaenel travels solo to Alaska after visiting Newberry

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Von Kaenel travels solo to Alaska after visiting Newberry By Elyssa Parnell eparnell@civitasmedia.com | Link to original Article

NEWBERRY — Cycling 7,000 miles across 13 states and parts of Canada might sound like a large undertaking, but for 58-year-old Tom von Kaenel, the venture is personal.

Tom Von Kaenel began his journey March 1 from the Scroll of Honor on Clemson's campus, making his way through Newberry that afternoon.

Tom Von Kaenel began his journey March 1 from the Scroll of Honor on Clemson’s campus, making his way through Newberry that afternoon.

Von Kaenel’s story began in 2010 in a hospital bed at the U.S. Army hospital in Landsthul, Germany. While cycling with a group of friends in the French Pyrenees Mountains, Von Kaenel hit a rock and crashed, leaving him with a shattered pelvis, a dislocated hip, a broken eye socket, and a concussion.

Being a retired Army lieutenant colonel, von Kaenel resolved that if he could ever walk again, he would bike across the country to raise awareness of servicemen and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Keeping his promise, von Kaenel began his journey March 1 from the Scroll of Honor on Clemson’s campus, making his way through Newberry that afternoon.

While in Newberry, as he will do at each stop along the way, von Kaenel held a ceremony honoring those fallen service members. The ceremony Saturday took place in Memorial Park in Newberry. After departing from Newberry, he continued his journey by heading toward Key West, Fla., before heading northwest Juneau, Alaska.

Tom von Kaenel, left, along with Norman Pursley, Luke Watson, and Greg Bauld, supporters of his journey.

Tom von Kaenel, left, along with Norman Pursley, Luke Watson, and Greg Bauld, supporters of his journey.

This is von Kaenel’s second bi-annual Sea2Sea Challenge as a part of the Sea2Sea Foundation. The foundation is a U.S. military 501(c)3 charity whose headquarters is in Suwanee, Ga. Its mission is to give back to those that served. Von Kaenel is the chairman of the foundation.

Differing from his first challenge in two ways, von Kaenel is cycling alone, simply relying on knowledge and assistance from local communities and cycling clubs and those that wish and are able to cycle any part of the distance with him.

“Most people can’t take four months out of their work schedules to do this sort of thing so I’m relying on people wanting to go specific legs of the journey, whether it’s just a few miles or day or two,” von Kaenel said. “But it’s important to have local knowledge of an area to know what routes to take and what to avoid.”

Training

Von Kaenel said his training for a challenge such as this is simple — he does a lot of intensive training, as well as training while on the job. He said he has not cycled very much, but said that to be “cycling fit,” it doesn’t take too much training, just about two to three weeks.

According to von Kaenel, if a person is fitted to their bicycle correctly, a journey such as this does not become nearly as hard.

“It’s like wearing a pair of shoes, if it’s comfortable and fits well, it’s kind of like walking,” von Kaenel said. “Before long you’re kind of increasing your mileage.”

Von Kaenel said he enjoys cycling because you’re using your own power and can go a long way in a day, and can sometimes go to more places than you can by walking, or taking a car.

Why Newberry?

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Tom von Kaenel takes a moment to remember lives lost of soldiers who have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the town of Six Mile in Pickens County, von Kaenel said his goal is to stop at each state capitol along his way to Alaska.

“Newberry was on the way, and I thought, what a wonderful town full of history,” von Kaenel said.

Having never visited Newberry, von Kaenel said he most looked forward to visiting the Newberry Opera House and thought it would be a great way to end his first day of cycling.

At the ceremony in Memorial Park, von Kaenel gave each participant several names, which contained a veterans name, rank, hometown, and date of death. Each person took turns reciting the name of a lost soldier, taking a moment of silence to remember the 96 South Carolinians that have perished during their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Those people are sons and daughters, husbands, wives, nieces, nephews, and grandfathers,” von Kaenel said. “They paid ultimate price by serving our country and I feel its our duty to absolutely remember that.”

While reciting each name, von Kaenel pointed out that the oldest life lost was 59, with the youngest being 19 years old.

“When you read the obituaries and you see that they are survived by a host of family and friends, it just breaks your heart,” von Kaenel said.

Stepping off the Bike

After stepping off the bike from his journey to Alaska, von Kaenel will return back to his home in Six Mile, where he is a business consultant, as well as a life coach, where he works with individuals objectively with what they want to do in life.

Von Kaenel encourages others to reach out to local veterans organizations to see how they can help.

“I know we have a lot of challenges and issues in our society today, but we also have best military in world and we need to raise our game to give back to those who have served,” von Kaenel said.

Another challenge von Kaenel issues is to put three words in front of the phrase “thank you for your service.” Those words are “how can I?”

What this does, von Kaenel said is starts the commitment process back because you are asking what you can do for them, which could involve your time, talent, or treasure (money).

Von Kaenel said a lot of veterans need our time, but also need to feel appreciated and valued for their service.

“For them to know their service is firstly understood, and also appreciated by their country, is a good way to start,” von Kaenel said.

Cross-country cyclist memorializes fallen warriors

By AL HACKLE ahackle@statesboroherald.com

Link to Original Article

Tom von Kaenel of Six Mile, S.C., reads the name of a 19-year-old soldier who was killed in action in Iraq during a brief memorial ceremony at City Hall Wednesday afternoon. Von Kaenel stopped in Statesboro for the night during his journey from Six Mile to Key West, Fla., and then to Juneau, Alaska, in honor of all troops killed during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tom von Kaenel of Six Mile, S.C., reads the name of a 19-year-old soldier who was killed in action in Iraq during a brief memorial ceremony at City Hall Wednesday afternoon. Von Kaenel stopped in Statesboro for the night during his journey from Six Mile to Key West, Fla., and then to Juneau, Alaska, in honor of all troops killed during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Stopping in Statesboro on a planned 6,000-mile-plus bicycle journey across America, Tom von Kaenel led roughly 50 people in a brief memorial service in the lobby of City Hall to Georgians who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Cards with information on each of Georgia’s 209 dead from the recent combat were issued to the local people. Following von Kaenel’s instructions, they read the name, rank, age, hometown and date of death of each fallen warrior before laying the cards one by one around a folded flag.

With everyone reading at once, the sound became a sort of room-filling murmur, then trailed off until there were three deceased veterans left, then two, then one.

“If we do this simultaneously, in a low, measured, prayerful way, people can get an idea of the chaos that occurs when a life is taken. …,” von Kaenel had said. “It’s very, very overwhelming when you hear all these voices.”

He read the last himself, “Worthington, Robert A., Private First Class … just 19 years old.” Georgia’s dead from the recent wars range in age from 18-57. Worthington, from Jackson, died May 22, 2007, in Iraq. The flag von Kaenel brought for the purpose had flown, he said, over the U.S. Capitol and in combat areas in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Von Kaenel, who departed Clemson, S.C., on Saturday, intends to conduct similar rituals in cities across America as he rides. His path will take him down to Key West, Fla., back up to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, and on through 10 more states and a number of their capitals, from Montgomery, Ala., to Juneau, Alaska. He plans to arrive in Juneau on July 4, then fly back to Atlanta on his way to a July 8 homecoming in Clemson.

He chairs a nonprofit corporation, Sea2Sea, founded in 2012, whose goals are to remind Americans of those who gave their lives and to promote charitable organizations that benefit veterans and military families. Sea2Sea collects no money itself, he said. He and three other Sea2Sea riders in 2012 bicycled 4,200 miles from the Pacific shore of Washington state to Arlington National Cemetery at Washington, D.C. This time he is riding solo.

A resident of Six Mile, S.C., near Clemson, von Kaenel, 58, retired from the Army in 1997 as a lieutenant colonel, but never served in combat. Instead, the incident he credits as inspiration was a 2010 crash during a bike ride in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. He was airlifted from a French hospital to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and found himself surrounded by American service members wounded in the wars.

Mayor Jan Moore welcomed von Kaenel to Statesboro and took part in the ceremony.

“I think I can look around the room and everybody will agree it was very moving,” Moore said. “I don’t think people knew really quite what to expect, but it couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate Ash Wednesday.”

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.